Northwest Side man charged with murdering his downstairs neighbor tells police, ‘It’s pretty scary to kill Satan’

When Dyan Nickerson’s upstairs neighbor ransacked her Edison Park home in October, making religious references and declaring that she would be going to hell, she did not press charges. Instead, she asked only that Thomas Diskin get treatment for his mental health diagnoses. Police took him for treatment.

On Tuesday morning, Diskin invaded Nickerson’s home again and killed her with a hammer, prosecutors said Thursday.

“It’s pretty scary to kill Satan,” he allegedly told arresting officers.

Thomas Diskin | CPD

Diskin, 56, is charged with first-degree murder, home invasion, and animal cruelty. Prosecutors said he also killed Nickerson’s cat and bird during this week’s attack.

A woman who recently bought a painting from Nickerson, 70, went to her home on the 6600 block of North Northwest Highway for a follow-up appointment Tuesday morning. She noticed Nickerson’s front door was damaged.

Diskin poked his head out of the second-floor window and began yelling at her, “making statements and admissions” about killing Nickerson and threatening to kill the woman, too, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said. She left the scene and called the police.

Officers found Nickerson dead with her cat and a hammer next to her and her bird on the kitchen floor.

Murphy said Diskin told police that Nickerson was the devil and her bird was Satan. Diskin has a history of mental health hospitalizations, according to Murphy.

An Assistant Public Defender said Diskin suffers from depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. He is a licensed electrician and writer.

“He does open mike comedy shows. He has an online presence with those shows,” the attorney continued, as she asked Judge Susana Ortiz to deny the state’s request to hold Diskin without bail.

Ortiz was not swayed and remanded him to the county jail, saying the thoughts in his head make him “particularly dangerous.”

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is